At Make it Clear, we’re an independent small business. We’ve been around for over 20 years and in that time, we’ve had a lot to figure out. Nobody tells you how to run a business, you have to figure it out for yourself.
As we’re a service-led organisation, we’re paid for people’s time spent on projects. This means we have to ensure our team and business have the right tools in place to maximise our work and income. From our 20 years in practice, here are a few of our most effective and useful tools we currently utilise:
Business operations and management
Google Workspace, which includes Gmail, Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Meet, is our primary tool. G Suite is dynamic and versatile, which distinguishes it from other platforms such as Microsoft Teams. From a Chrome browser, our team has access to everything they need, including internal methodologies, processes, project briefs, emails, company calendars and spreadsheets. However, we’re also very sensitive to our client’s requirements. All of our employees have Zoom and Teams accounts as in some cases, clients don’t like to use Google, so we will adapt, appropriately.
To manage all of our finances we use Xero, a cloud-based accounting software. We favoured this tool for its invoicing capabilities which includes automatically chasing outstanding payments up to six weeks after the payment due date as well as the platform integrating with our bank accounts seamlessly.
We use Timetastic, a staff leave planner. As we do not have a large HR department, Timetastic allows line managers to handle their team’s absences such as holidays, sick leave and compassionate leave through an online portal. A request is made by an employee for the line manager to quickly review and make a subsequent decision.
Studio resource and time management
As mentioned previously, we’re a service-led organisation, we’re paid for our practitioner’s time spent on projects. To ensure the studio is managed and utilised effectively across all projects, we use Harvest Forecast which is a two-way sync software that connects time required and time spent with projects and tasks. Once a week we host a planning meeting to allocate the required and available resources to each project, two or three weeks in advance.
At the end of each month, we total up the time spent on each project and the time agreed with the client to ensure our studio spends the right amount of time on the output. This means we can see if we’re maximising our team’s time and subsequent project income.
We use Monday.com to stay on top of every stage of each project. This cloud-based platform allows each project to be listed and broken down into each process, as well as the stage of the process and project.
We’re a creative agency, so of course, we use Adobe’s Creative suite of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro and After effects. We won’t delve too deep into these programs as they’re very well known, however, we’ve recently adopted a fairly new tool called Figma.
Figma is a vector graphics editor and prototyping tool which is primarily web-based, with additional offline features enabled by desktop applications. We transitioned to Figma nine months ago, and it is now our primary tool within the studio. It is excellent for collaboration with team members and clients due to it being cloud-based as we can all be working on the same project at the same time.
Online collaboration and presentation
Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard platform that enables distributed teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning and managing agile workflows. Since the pandemic, we’ve been working remotely and running more remote workshops with clients. Miro allows us to facilitate workshops, collaborate internally and plan efficiently.
Online dashboard and marketing planner
A new tool currently being adopted by our studio is Notion. Notion is a project management tool that allows the company to coordinate efficiently. It’s a powerful platform that has many possibilities from employee onboarding, lead gen pipeline and tracking company targets and tasks. The cloud-based dashboard can be endlessly customised for any requirements and can be accessed by those with a dashboard URL. At Make it Clear we use Notion for two outputs, managing our content production and promotion as well as team management and support.
Our digital marketer uses Notion to plan content topics and types (blog, social media assets, interviews, secondary webpage links) then manage their creation progress (liaising with the relevant internal teams to execute the content creation), to finally when the item of content is to be posted on our various marketing channels (website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest). Using Notion for this output allows for every stage of the content production and promotion cycle to be effectively managed and supervised.
The MiC team works on a wide range of projects and clients that need a diversity of methods and strategies. We’ve designed an intuitive company dashboard with all of our internal process documentation easily accessible, filed inside their relevant service offering, to ensure any team member can simply identify and study the essential approach. We no longer have to trawl through a plethora of files on our server to find a certain procedure document that is necessary to execute a project.
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